Series: Black City #2
Published by Putnam Juvenile on June 4, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, YA Paranormal Romance
Sexual Content: Mild sensuality. Brief, non graph sex scenes. References to rape and child sex slavery
Reviewed by: Abigail
Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Phoenix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose’s Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.
The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn’t seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose’s Law, signing Natalie’s death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.
The Black City series takes place in a well conceived world fraught with political oppression reminiscent of the Nazi regime (except instead of persecuted Jews there are Darklings aka vampires) with a religious and political leader determined to restore racial purity by any means necessary. The idea of a Romeo and Juliet type romance is fantastic in theory too, but in execution, it unfortunately squanders the potential of this interesting world.
The aggravating character issues from the debut are perhaps more grievous in PHOENIX. Our insta-love couple have a 'big secret' that comes between them and creates jealousy and misunderstandings given that both Ash and Natalie have the emotional maturity of a fruit fly. They make stupid decisions, cause unnecessary pain, and immediately jump to the worst possible conclusions about the other. It doesn't help that a new guy and girl show up to create two love triangles--both of which are irritating and cliche.
Apart from the many character issues, the pacing is also really poor. I can appreciate an adrenaline fueled plot that hurls it's characters from one dire situation to the next, but in PHOENIX, the stunted emotional maturity of the protagonists continually takes precedent over the very real genocidal threats facing the Darklings. Ash actually dithers back and forth about whether or not he should save his entire race or else sacrifice millions for Natalie because their love is so strong, only to believe she's leaving him for a guy she literally just met like a chapter later.
Many, many people are raving over this series and a movie version could be in the works. I just don't see it. The worldbuilding is admittedly very intriguing and the storyline is appealing, but these characters are monumentally foolish and the insta-love romance carried over from the debut coupled with not one but two trite love triangles is too hard for me to get past. I won't be back for the third book in the Black City series in 2014.Series Titles:
- Black City
- Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London - 4/5